PHOENIXVILLE - They came in search of preventive medicine, protection from sniffles, coughs, fevers and aches.
At one point late Tuesday morning, hundreds lined up along Nutt Road, for 200 feet along the full length of Gateway Pharmacy, which supplied 550 doses of flu vaccine.
Residents are scrambling more than usual this year to get the flu shot. National stockpiles this year were cut in half because of complications at a major vaccine manufacturing facility in Great Britain.
Many who stood waiting more than an hour in line were older, one of the groups most targeted for inoculation.
"Anybody is at risk who is over 65 years old, has asthma or diabetes," said Gateway Pharmacy owner Mark Szilagyi. "Children or health care workers, including pharmacy workers, are also at risk."
The pharmacy owner said that he had offered the vaccine to his employees and about 20 of roughly 100 part- and full-time workers at his two locations (the other is at Gateway Shopping Center in Wayne) accepted the offer.
Shot recipients started lining up as early as 8 a.m., while the first $20 shot was given at 10 a.m. Insurance companies and Medicare helped to pay the cost for some.
Ten at a time, the public walked into the store and bared their arms. That act was complicated by the fact that this was one of the first days of the season that heavier jackets and sweaters were needed.
Nearly everyone who sought a flu shot was able to receive one. As the day went on, lines shortened and the last vaccine was administered by a private firm of nurses at approximately 5 p.m.
"We can't get one at my doctors or the VA (Veteran's Administration Office), said Lewis Culp of Malvern. "I haven't ever gotten over breathing problems caused by smoking several years ago."
Carmen Culp, his wife, said that she has been receiving flu shots for more than 20 years and strongly trusts their effectiveness.
"I believe in it, that's why I'm here," she said. "I believe in prevention. It's a very serious thing."
Delores Kelly of Malvern said that although she already has a confirmed a doctor's appointment with her personal physician to receive the vaccine, she opted to receive the vaccine now.
"I wanted to make sure that I got the shot," said Kelly. "Absolutely, the shot works. I've been getting them ever since they've been giving them out and I've had bad colds, but not the flu."
Phoenixville's Nancy Giesler said that she has taken the flu vaccine for at least the last 10 years.
"It's working medicine and this is very convenient, especially for someone retired with a limited income," said Giessler.